Friday, June 13, 2008

Diary of a Short Film III: Shooting Complete

Shooting commenced on The Payoff last Friday, and concluded on Monday. I shot for two half days, between the hours of lunch and dinner. This forced me to shoot quickly, and saved me some money I'd usually spend to feed everyone. I don't really like to do this, but I'm very broke right now, and had little money to spend. The nice thing was that my actors knew this, and had no problem with it. Of course I let them go before they got hungry...

Last Friday we shot all the exteriors that took place at a bus stop. After scouting the intended location (in front of a church), I elected to move down the street where the stop was directly in front of a vacant lot--much more conducive to the story. We shot there for about four hours under an overcast sky. The lighting was excellent until the pesky sun decided to play hide and seek several times. For the most part the sun cooperated, except for one critical reaction shot that I just couldn't seem to get. In the end it was okay, as a rough cut with what I had worked well.

One Robert Rodriguez trick I employed was using my zoom lens to rapidly change shots that would be edited later. In The Payoff, two different characters exit the bus at the same stop, but in two different scenes. Since the bus would only arrive at our stop hourly, I put both actors on the bus at the previous stop (at the church) and had them exit separately. The first take was the best with the bus hitting it's unknown mark perfectly, and me shooting wide, then closer as my first actor exited. When he left the frame, I repositioned for my actress, then went very tight as the bus pulled away. It was a great way to get more than one shot with minimal bus fare and limited time.

On Monday I shot all my interiors in a real motel that was provided to me by a friend (Yes! I love connections). We shot everything using light coming in from the motel window and from the hallway lighting for the tracking shots. This looked pretty good, probably thanks to the fact that I was using the nifty Sony FX1 HDV camera. I've never shot in HD before, but always want to now. It's a great and detail rich medium.

So there you go. Shooting is over, and I already have a rough cut (using Vegas Pro 8) that I've sent to my composer for scoring ideas. The ultimate compliment came from my wife who saw only the last scene, teared up and said "I think this may be your best work." My actors (Bus Riley and Morgan Long) deserve a lot of credit for that comment. They were wonderful.

Phase: Post-Production
Days remaining: 11

Money spent: $8

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